It means that even after you've learned hard lessons, you have to watch your children learn them again, for themselves.
There is a saying that I always think of when being a mom is hard...
“Making the decision to have a child - It's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”- Elizabeth Stone
Let me tell you a little secret about raising a teenager... even when she is an awesome kid who makes great grades and who doesn't have sex and who is cheerful about 85% of the time and who keeps her room relatively clean and who helps with dinner and knows how to dust the right way... even then, it's hard to raise her. It's hard to help her make the right choices. It's hard to let her make the wrong ones. And sometimes, like right now, it's hard to know which is which.
Last year, she was in seventh grade and a boy who rides her bus was in ninth grade. She and this boy became friends. He was and still is this geeky looking kid whose feet are too big for his body, he wears glasses and draws pictures. He doesn't look like the kind of boy you need to be too wary of. I'm beginning to think that they all are anyway.
So last year, they become friends. In fact, there was a whole group of kids she was friends with on the bus... her little bus posse.
And then the trouble started.
This boy started dating a girl in high school. A
It only lasted a few weeks and Amanda came home and griped about this girl and how she was trying to get this boy to get into trouble all the time. I reminded her, as I do whenever the opportunity arises, that he is responsible for his choices, not this other girl.
In a flurry of activity, many things happened quite suddenly.
The boy and the girl slept together.
The boy and the girl broke up.
The girl claimed rape.
The girl admitted no rape, but confirmed pregnancy.
The girl also admitted multiple partners.
The boy was shipped away to relatives.
I took advantage of all this drama to have several BIG conversations with my daughter about choices and behavior and responsibility.
Now, having been down the teenaged pregnancy road before, I sympathize with these kids, truly I do. That being said, I do not ever want to have to sympathize with any of my own children in that sense. I'd like to get all of my girls well into adulthood without any of them having babies.
So, the boy moved away and Amanda and he stayed friends online and via text but the updates on the girl and the boy were few and far between.
Admittedly, I was relieved.
Not long afterwards, Cody moved back. And in with us. And away.
Another big sigh of relief but not without the recognition that while I don't want these boys thinking about my daughter naked, I also feel for them. I cared about Cody. I wanted to help him.
Sometimes I feel like there is something inside of me that tries to reach out and latch onto people and pull them in closer. Even when I don't want to, it still happens.
The thing that Cody had in common with this boy? Both sets of parents blow.
So the boy moved back at the end of the summer (practically coinciding with Cody leaving) and he and Amanda became fast friends again. And then with the beginning of the school year, just a mere three weeks ago, they started "going out". And when I say "going out" PLEASE NOTICE THE QUOTATION MARKS because my daughter isn't going to movies or out to dinner or even for a damn walk with this kid, they just ride the bus and have the social status of going out and they might hold hands or have long texting conversations but they aren't dating. Because my daughters aren't allowed to date until they are sixteen.
But at the same time, I realize that "going out" with boys, which they've been doing in school since the second grade, happens. I don't like it but in order to maintain some kind of control and facilitate honesty in my household, there it is. And more times than not, when it happens, it is over just as quickly.
So when Amanda came to me to let me know that he and this boy were going out, I inwardly cringed but outwardly kept my cool. And have held onto that cool for the last few weeks as this girl has gotten closer to delivery.
Now, there is some possibility that this isn't the boy's baby but his parents, who blow, are practically excited about the baby being born and have agreed to start paying child support without a paternity test. There are so many things about this boys parents that I don't understand but I really cannot fathom not getting a paternity test when this girl has admitted she was with other guys at the same time.
As a parent, I am struggling with all of this.
On the one hand, I feel like I am limiting what Amanda can get away with but simultaneously, I am having a bunch of chats with her about all of this. She has been crystal clear in letting me know just how much she understands right now that one time is all it takes. She has told me that she doesn't want to get pregnant, doesn't want to have sex yet and man oh man does she ever have the shining example of how easily those things could happen now. We've talked about how many girls at school have already been pregnant or had babies... Teenaged pregnancy is no longer a ship your daugter off to her Aunt's house for the summer thing. It's in your face, it's happening a lot.
At the same time, I've told her that as soon as she even thinks she might want to have sex, she needs to let me know because we will get her ass to a gynecologist immediately and she can choose the form of birth control she wants to be on first. And we can learn the names of all the stds ever.
On the other hand, I want to forbid it. All of it. Sex. Boys. "Going Out". Growing Up. But I can't. Forbidding it all closes the communication doors and I'd rather help guide her through her choices than try and make them for her or worse, have her make them behind my back.
Yesterday the girl had her baby. The boy wasn't at school because his parents took him to the delivery. And when Amanda got home, she was upset because everyone had been talking about it all day long.
There are no books on how to handle this. How to handle that the boy your daughter likes already has a baby (if it's his) or that everyone keeps gossiping about it or that she's not even fourteen for another ten weeks.
And all the while, I'm starting to look at Emilee and wonder.